Pep Guardiola hails ‘exceptional’ Arsenal and claims they deserve top spot
Pep Guardiola praises Arsenal as “exceptional” and feels they deserve to be in the first place.
Ahead of the World Cup break, Pep Guardiola has lauded Arsenal and believes they are the rightful Premier League leaders. He also claims that Manchester City’s Carabao Cup victory is a plus rather than a detriment.
With Chelsea visiting in the EFL Cup on Wednesday night, the Spaniard, whose team is presently second in the Premier League, two points behind Arsenal, altered his lineup and managed to defeat Chelsea 2-0 with goals from Riyad Mahrez and Julian Alvarez.
On Saturday, they visit Brentford in the last game before the World Cup, while Arsenal travels to Wolves after losing to Brighton at home in their own Carabao Cup match.
With the next round taking place two days after the World Cup final, it had been suggested that it could be a blessing in disguise to exit the competition now.
However, Guardiola is quite happy with City’s start to the season and believes the fourth-round encounter will be a huge help to the players in his squad who won’t play for the next six weeks – even if his side stays in second place behind Arsenal after the weekend.
When it was suggested that he couldn’t have asked for much more from the first part of the season, Guardiola replied: ‘We could be top of the league! But Arsenal have been exceptional.
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‘So I think yesterday one guy on my staff told me that we had more points in the Premier League [at this stage of the season] than I think in the last four seasons.
‘So that means we have been really good, but another team has been better. We have to accept it. This is the level, the bar, the standards.
‘But of course to manage Champions League qualification in this period and not be far, far away from the top of the league, this is the situation.
‘Yesterday I could say “Oh if we are not qualified, we have one more week of holiday” but it will be good for Sergio [Gomez], Riyad [Mahrez], Erling [Haaland] who don’t go to the World Cup.
‘Before we go to Leeds in the first [Premier League] game after the World Cup, they will have a rhythm of one game [from the Carabao Cup].’
Guardiola was also asked about Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham all exiting the competition, and replied sarcastically: ‘Yeah we’ll be champions already, yeah. Thank you.
‘We’re confident for the fact that it doesn’t matter. I’ve said from day one, if we play a friendly game, Carabao Cup, Premier League, Champions League, FA Cup: we play to win the game.
‘And this is the standard we are going to set in this club. Consistency in every competition, we have to do our job. After we can lose, of course, but we played today to win the game, being who we are.’